1. Don’t be afraid of grammar
Grammar can look intimidating at first, and it can be easy to just turn around and say that maybe it’s easier to just learn “the natural way”. However, even a small amount of grammar study can go a long way and make the learning process easier. While learning “naturally” might intuitively sound like the best way, there are a lot of drawbacks to using this as your only approach, and grammar study doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it can make the learning process a lot more smooth in the long term.
Learners can make a lot of mistakes in their target languages which can easily be corrected by just reading the relevant grammar rule once. While absorbing a language does happen, it can involve a lot of trial and error. There is really no need to put yourself through this if you can just read the relevant rule instead of having to make the mistake hundreds of times before it gets noticed.
Learning grammar also makes learning vocabulary easier. Knowing sentence structures, inflections, and the like can help infer the meanings of words, which would otherwise be much more difficult.
2. Don’t get too attached to any particular resource
While it is generally a good habit to finish what you start, it’s good to try out different resources, see what you like, and maybe even complete multiple courses or books at the same level. It can be easy to finish a beginner course, feel like intermediate resources are too difficult, and then just kind of sit around confused about what to do next. While you do need to level up your resources eventually, it can be possible to do both. It’s fine to start consuming more advanced content while also going through another beginner course.
3. Don’t worry too much if you don’t understand
Some people might get disappointed easily when they start consuming authentic content and don’t understand anything at first. This is fine, you have to start somewhere. On one side, don’t skip all the steps in between and dismiss beginner resources too easily. But, at the same time, consume content even if you don’t understand it. You may be surprised how quickly you begin to understand that which you didn’t understand earlier. A lot of times, it’s just a matter of getting used to the sounds of the language.
4. Find out what quirks your target language has, and adjust to them
Some who knows a language with fixed stress, like Polish, may underestimate the importance of stress in a language like Russian. This can make it more difficult to fix pronunciation later on, once the importance is realized. English has lexical stress as well, so this isn’t exactly that much of a quirk, but it does seem to be much more important in Russian. It’s also just something that doesn’t get talked about a lot, so new learners aren’t necessary warned about it if they don’t do some research on their own. Knowing the importance of lexical stress early on is something that doesn’t make the language learning process any more difficult, but can save a learner from a lot of problems in the long term.
5. Be confident that you will learn the language
Beginners often are actually very confident in the beginning, but, they don’t always keep this momentum. Some don’t notice their progress and conclude that language learning is too difficult for them. What needs to be taken into account is that language learning differs from a lot of other skills in the sense that the progress is a lot more gradual and difficult to notice. With many subjects, it’s easy to talk about what specifically was learned in a particular lesson. But, language learning involves a lot of gradual repetition and moving what is learned into active memory. Even if you don’t notice it, your passive memory can often be gaining a lot of new information. Just practice every day and be confident that you are progressing, and, eventually, you will notice it.